NS EXCLUSIVE: Scarlet Jauncey and the Black Swans

NS EXCLUSIVE: Scarlet Jauncey and the Black Swans


Netballer Scarlet Jauncey never imagined there’d be a First Nations national team to

strive for. An opportunity to play for her country, surrounded by Indigenous

teammates and mentors. It’s one of many reasons why Netball Australia’s recent

initiative – the creation of the Black Swans – is so powerful.


12 of Australia’s finest First Nations netballers were chosen for the inaugural national

team, as part of Netball Australia’s commitment to increase representation and

retention of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander athletes. Their selection was based

on their experience in national high performance programmes, and they were

supported by Indigenous coaching and support staff.


The Black Swans, coaches and support staff take the line at the Australia Pacific Series, 2024. Image Danny Dalton/Tah Dah Sports


The team’s first outing was at June’s Australia Pacific Series, where they finished on

top of the ladder. Played in Queensland, it was the fourth iteration of the tournament,

this year featuring teams from Tonga, Singapore, Fiji, Namibia and Samoa, all

playing for world ranking points. As an invitational team, the Black Swans were

unable to compete for medals, but achieved four wins and two losses, an incredible

achievement for the new look side.


A proud Yaruwu woman, Jauncey was a rock in defence, while her sister Jamaica

played in the shooting circle. Elite netball isn’t new to Scarlet – born in Western

Australia, she spent time in the Queensland pathways when her family moved there

for five years, but has since returned home. The hard working athlete captained

WA’s state U17 and U19 teams, and was also selected in national squads for the

same age group. However, playing for the Black Swans is the highlight of her career

to date.


Sisters Scarlet and Jamaica Jauncey took the court together for the Black Swans. Image Danny Dalton/Tah Dah Sports


Jauncey said, “Playing for the Black Swans was an experience like no other. Getting

to play alongside some of my best friends, building connections with them, and

playing for my country at such a young age is something I didn’t think I’d be doing.

To do that on the international stage representing my family and tribe was fantastic.”

“The Black Swans is paving the way for the future, and gives young Indigenous

children something to strive for.”



Thought given by Netball Australia to the structure of the team made the experience

for the young athletes a safer space for them to thrive in. They were surrounded by

other First Nations women such as head coach and Kamilaroi woman Ali Tucker-

Munro, and former elite netballer Beryl Friday, a Kuku Nyungkal woman, who shared

some of their experiences.


Jauncey explained, “Our physio, our manager, both of our coaches were all

Indigenous, so it was great to see and experience them in their high performance


“Having that level of support in this team was really special.”


While inaugural Black Swans’ coach Tucker-Munro is also Netball Australia’s First

Nations Engagement Lead, she’s a familiar face to Jauncey. The former Diamonds’

squad member is a regular when Indigenous netballers attend Australian training

camps. Jauncey explained, “She’s been around during those weeks doing coaching,

being a support person for me and other First Nations’ athletes.


Ali Tucker-Munro – inaugural coach of the Black Swans. Image Danny Dalton/Tah Dah Sports


The Confident Girls Foundation has also thrown their ongoing support and

sponsorship around the Black Swans, which will help the team going forwards. Their

next outing will be at the upcoming Australian Netball Championships, to be held in

Canberra in August. Across three days of competition, the Black Swans will be able

to test their skills against other teams, while there will also be developmental

opportunities for other parts of the netball ecosystem, including coaches, umpires

and bench officials.


Luckily Jauncey won’t have to decide between competing for the Black Swans and

Western Australia, a choice she had to make recently.


“I’ve had something similar come up when I decided to play in the Pacific series,

because the tournament ran at the same time as my commitments with the West

Coast Fever reserves, and also my last round and semi-finals in the Western

Australian Netball League.


“They were really important games, but playing for the Black Swans was an

opportunity I wasn’t going to give up. It was a hard decision, but I knew what I was

going to do all along.”


Goal keeper Scarlet Jauncey gets a hand to the ball. Image Danny Dalton/Tah Dah Sports




With research showing that abuse continues to rise in sport, it takes a special kind of

courage to be an elite athlete, and especially an Indigenous elite athlete. In addition

to the racism they experience on a societal level, First Nations athletes often receive

backlash purely for doing what they love and are good at.


It doesn’t get much worse than the vitriol directed at Queensland Firebird and

Noongar woman Donnell Wallam. When a sponsorship issue with Hancock

Prospecting cropped up, the superstar was left stranded as the face of the



The vilification she received has been horrific and two years later, is still

going on. Just days ago, Wallam received an abusive letter in the mail, which she

rightly called out and has since received widespread support from her governing

body, player and state associations, fans and fellow athletes.


The Black Swans connected immediately. Image Danny Dalton/Tah Dah Sports


While Jauncey hasn’t suffered the same level of criticism as this mentor of hers, and

hopefully never will, racial abuse is something many First Nations athletes

experience, even in their youth.


“We often experience it our whole lives, and it’s definitely hard.

“It starts with comments online, comments in person, or people who think they can

hide in a bigger crowd – we’ve seen this in footy with Adam Goodes.”


It’s another reason why the existence of the Black Swans is so crucial. As Jauncey

explained, “When we joined the Black Swans we had a yarn about our experiences,

and hearing words of wisdom from Ali and Beryl on how to deal with it.”


A deadly lean over the shot. Image Danny Dalton/Tah Dah Sports


Netball Australia’s State of the Game review of 2020 committed to not only

increasing Indigenous representation within netball, but stated that the sport should

be ‘playing its part in Australia’s broad commitments to Aboriginal and/or Torres

Strait Islander self-determination and social justice.’


For Jauncey, being a part of the Black Swans has highlighted some further initiatives

that could help, giving her courage that the future may be different.

Having experienced the value of Indigenous mentors surrounding the team, Jauncey

hopes similar initiatives can filter through on a broader scale. Providing more cultural

awareness training to coaches and umpires so they have a better understanding of

Indigenous athletes and the issues they can face and supporting opportunities for

First Nations people across the spectrum of netball.


The Black Swans and their support group at the the Australia Pacific Series. Image Danny Dalton/Tah Dah Sports



Further information on the Black Swans can be found here.

Suncorp Super Netball Round 13 marks the second First Nations Round, to align with NAIDOC week. Some of the NAIDOC celebrations in your state or territory can be found here. This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is Keep the Fire Burning! Blak, Loud and Proud. It ‘celebrates the unyielding spirit of First Nations communities and invites all to stand in solidarity, amplifying the voices that have long been silenced.’

E-safety resources for the sporting community can be found here.

E-safety resources for First Nations people can be found here.







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About the Author:

Physiotherapist, writer and netball enthusiast. Feature articles, editorials and co-author of "Shine: the making of the Australian Netball Diamonds". Everyone has a story to tell, and I'm privileged to put some of them on paper. Thank you to the phenomenal athletes, coaches and people in the netball world who open a door to their lives, and let me tiptoe in.
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